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Blog

Twitter Loosening Up on Trademark Claims?

July 10, 2014

Blog

Twitter Loosening Up on Trademark Claims?

July 10, 2014

Back to Fish's Trademark and Copyright Blog

 

Twitter’s terms of use includes a Trademark Policy whereby Twitter may suspend and reassign a user account name that consists of someone else’s “company or business name, logo, or other trademark-protected materials.”  In order for a trademark owner to submit a claim under this policy, one must complete Twitter’s online form.  The form includes fields for the registration number and the office or country where the mark is registered.  Twitter states: “A federal or international trademark registration is required.”  Owners of trademarks not registered at the national level cannot take advantage of the Trademark Policy – they must instead complete a different form involving user impersonation.  This restriction of Twitter’s policy to nationally registered marks is at something of a disconnect from U.S. trademark law, where rights accrue with or without registration.  Holders of so-called “common law” trademarks are left at a disadvantage.

But World Trademark Review Daily has reported that Twitter recently upheld a trademark policy complaint submitted by a South African radio station operator seeking to liberate the user name “Unradio” despite the fact that the claimant had not yet secured a registration for the mark.  Twitter apparently recognized the common law rights that the claimant had accrued, and may also have considered the burden imposed length of time it typically takes to register a mark in South Africa – two years or more.

This is the first reported instance of Twitter upholding a complaint under its trademark policy based on an unregistered mark, and is a hopeful development for trademark owners who may need to seek relief before their registration is complete.

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Blog Authors

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Robert M. O'Connell, Jr. | Of Counsel

Robert O’Connell is Of Counsel in the Boston office of Fish & Richardson. His practice focuses on trademark and copyright strategic advice, prosecution and enforcement, including all aspects of domestic and international trademark law; registration and...

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